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Ukraine rebels free OSCE monitors, 3 Ukrainians killed in attack - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Unidentified members of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission in Ukraine get out of a vehicle next to Alexander Borodai, right, prime minister of the self-proclaimed "Donetsk People's Republic," on arrival at the city of Donetsk after being released from captivity, June 27, 2014. (Reuters/Shamil Zhumato)

Unidentified members of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission in Ukraine get out of a vehicle next to Alexander Borodai, right, prime minister of the self-proclaimed “Donetsk People’s Republic,” on arrival at the city of Donetsk after being released from captivity, June 27, 2014. (Reuters/Shamil Zhumato)

Donetsk, Reuters—Pro-Russian separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine on Saturday released a second group of four monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) who had been seized on May 29, a Reuters witness said.

Their release, which followed the freeing of another group of OSCE monitors early on Friday, came after Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko announced a 72-hour extension to a ceasefire until Monday night. That ceasefire appeared under threat when three members of the Ukrainian military were killed in a rebel attack on their post near the eastern city of Slaviansk.

This correspondent saw the four—three men and a woman—driven by heavily armed men up to the entrance of a hotel in the eastern city of Donetsk.

They stepped out, shook hands with other waiting OSCE representatives and then went into the hotel.

A first group of OSCE monitors, seized days earlier by pro-Russian separatists, were released in the early hours of Friday.

The OSCE monitoring groups are part of a 300-strong force sent there to observe compliance with a four-way agreement in Geneva in April aimed at defusing the crisis in Ukraine’s east.

The circumstances of their detention are not yet clear.

“A total of eight were detained and we have released eight,” Aleksander Boroday, “prime minister” of the self-styled Donetsk People’s Republic said on Friday.

A ceasefire extension until Monday night announced by Poroshenko called for the release of “hostages” held by both sides.

But elsewhere on Saturday the ceasefire appeared under threat when three members of the Ukrainian military were killed in a rebel attack on their post near the eastern flashpoint city of Slaviansk.

“As a result of the [rebel] fighters shooting at the post near Slaviansk, three members of the Ukrainian forces were killed and a fourth was wounded,” the spokesman, Oleksiy Dmitrashkovsky, was quoted as saying by the Interfax news agency.

Poroshenko announced the extension, partly at the urging of some European leaders, after returning to Kiev from a European Union summit in Brussels where he signed a landmark free trade pact.

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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